Toronto—Child protection workers from across the province are experiencing crushing workloads. They say the under-funded child welfare system is in a tailspin and is about to crash unless the government recommits now, to making vulnerable children a priority.
Just three years ago the provincial government took steps to ensuring at risk children are protected. Massive changes to the child welfare system were made in response to a series of inquests into child deaths. But today, staffing still falls below the acceptable level needed to ensure the safety of children.
“Workers are faced with horrendous workloads, and they are spending more time on paperwork than on childwork. They are burnt out and many are leaving the field. The system is a pressure cooker and we are sounding the alarm bells that unless solutions are found, vulnerable children will be hurt,” says Sid Ryan the Ontario president of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), the union that represents more than half of the province’s 6,000 child protection workers.
CUPE and the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU), which also represents child protection workers, are coordinating their efforts to improve conditions for workers and the children and families who need services.
Tomorrow (Friday, March 15) Ryan along with OPSEU president Leah Casselman and workers from 15 children’s aid societies (CASs) across Ontario will hold a media conference at the Delta Chelsea Hotel (Gerrard & Yonge) Mountbatten “A” Room, at 11:00 a.m. to bring to the forefront the crisis looming in the sector. They will stress that the collective agreements of thousands of caseworkers will expire at the end of this month. Also tomorrow, Ryan and Casselman will present the Ministry of Labour with more than a dozen conciliation requests, a process that will start the countdown to a strike or lockout deadline sector-wide.
“What this means is that there is the potential for labour unrest in the sector because there will be common strike dates across the province. Our members are overloaded and under fire and we’ve had several recent strikes in the sector, not over wages, but over workload,” says Ryan.
For more information please contact:
Sid Ryan, President CUPE Ontario
Stella Yeadon, CUPE Communications